It seems like the current hotness is Twitter, with tons of publicity about how their growth in the past couple of months has been staggering. Of course, as with any other service on the Internet, with more awareness about the product, more people feel the need to bash it because it’s not their thing. While Twitter has been blowing up, I see more and more comments around the Internet from people claiming that Twitter is anything from stupid to retarded, including editors from well-known tech publications. But it’s not only online – I’ve been in conversations with people who also declare the same things to anyone who’s listening in their vicinity.
While I understand and respect everyone’s opinion on the matter, I believe that it’s mostly a matter of them giving in to their perceptions of Twitter. Here are a few of the most-repeated issues people have against Twitter, and my own point of view regarding those issues.
“I don’t care about other people’s lives”
By far, the most common issue people have against Twitter is that they say they don’t care about the minor and insignificant details that people usually post on Twitter. I have to partially agree on this (I mean, who cares that someone smiled when listening to Ricky Martin on the radio?). But just because a lot of people do this, it doesn’t mean that the entire Twitter universe is filled with people who post every insignificant detail of themselves. While I do post stuff that no one would care about from time to time, I refrain from doing it full-time.
Also, these are the exact same people who visit TMZ every day and talk about what they showed in Access Hollywood the other night. Face it: by far, most human beings are attracted to gossip. Do you know somebody who apparently has nothing better to do than peek outside the window and check what the passers-by are doing? Are you one of those people? Trust me, I know a lot of people who do this. So why do these ‘curious’ people shun Twitter because people expose details about their life?
This brings me to my next issue.
“Only celebrities have anything interesting to say on Twitter”
Twitter’s explosive growth is thanks in large part by the constant news reports about celebrities joining in and chatting with their fans. Ashton Kutcher made major waves with CNN when they had their little ‘competition’ to see who would be the first to reach 1 million followers. Oprah Winfrey exposed the site to millions of her viewers when she created her account during one of her shows. Even ‘bad’ publicity seems to have helped – I bet that a lot of baseball fans signed up after hearing about Twitter when manager extraordinaire Tony La Russa sued Twitter over someone using his name on the service.
In any case, celebrities definitely are not the most interesting people on Twitter. Well, it depends on who you are. If you’re part of the TMZ-lovin’ group I mentioned above, then Twitter will be celebrity heaven for you. But for others, like myself, celebrities are pretty damn annoying. For example, I’m a fan of Shaquille O’Neal, but his Twitter stream makes my head hurt (one of his latest tweets: “thanks 2 all da fans who watched last nite & made my sho get da best numbers in yrs”). Also, while I adore Mark Hoppus of Blink-182, his tweets recently have no substance to them (“Apparently “make-up sex” has absolutely nothing to do with making love to the make-up at the mall cosmetics counter. Sorry everyone. My bad.” Funny, but what the hell?)
“I’m not interesting” / “Who the hell is going to follow me?”
You’re not interesting, you say? Guess what: I’m not either. I’m willing to bet that more than 99% of the millions of current Twitter users aren’t really that interesting either. But for every Twitter user that doesn’t interest you, there are lots of people do do find that Twitter user interesting. Like I said above, I’m not interested in reading through Shaq’s poor grammer, but there are two million Twitter users who do. I don’t expect everyone to follow what’s going on with GitHub, or see what J. Chris Anderson has been doing with CouchDB.
This brings me to my own conclusion about the use of Twitter:
It’s all about you
Yes, about you. It’s up to you how you decide to use Twitter. Like I showed above, most of the people I follow on Twitter are people within my own field. They share a lot of information about things I’m interested in, and a lot of times they also share information that really hasn’t hit ‘the rounds’. It’s fun to hear something on Twitter an hour or two before other major sites pick up on it.
Another use I give to my Twitter account is for my own selfish reasons: To have some sort of record about things that I might have forgotten if I hadn’t written it down somewhere. After all, Twitter is billed as a ‘micro-blogging‘ site, so I blog about these occurrences in my life. It’s a nice little place to see moments that were awesome or important in your life, like this tweet from December 2007, where I was interviewed for the job I currently hold in New York City. Yep, I’m sure these tweets make most everyone say “I don’t care”, but like I said, it’s all about me, in this case.
So it’s up to you decide how to use it, but ultimately, it’s up to you to decide not to use Twitter at all. I’ve encountered people who are rabid Twitter fans (the same type of people who felt ‘jittery’ and ‘naked’ when Twitter was down a few weeks ago) who desperately try to shove Twitter down other people’s throats, and get visibly frustrated when the other people say that they don’t feel like it’s useful to them. There are few worse things than having someone impose something on you that you simply don’t care about. There’s nothing in this world that works for everybody. When something exists that makes every single human being in this planet say “Whoa, that’s great! I’m going to use it all the time!”, let me know. I expect to be dead by then.
If you gave Twitter a try and still think it’s the lamest, most boring thing ever, then good for you. Just don’t think that the millions of Twitter users who do find it useful and/or entertaining are wasting their time. We surely aren’t.